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Boss relishing derby test

Mark Hughes 0809

Mark Hughes 0809

Mark Hughes returns to his former stamping ground as Manchester City manager today, and for him the key to success will be that his side has total self-belief.

During his time as Blackburn Rovers' boss, Hughes enjoyed overseeing a win at Old Trafford and he will be hoping for more of the same when the Blues take on their local rivals this afternoon.

That 2-1 win for Rovers came in September 2005, and despite the time elapsed since it's a fond memory and one that he aims to draw upon today.

"The secret is that you have to work very hard - and your goalkeeper usually has to play very well!" laughs Hughes, "Brad Friedel has an outstanding performance in that game, but it comes down to having belief in your own ability.

"It's is all about sticking your chest out and saying, 'come on then, test us and let us see what you have got'. I sense from the atmosphere in and around the group this week and last week that our belief is growing. We now understand that we are a good side, we are building in the right direction and gaining confidence because of that.

You have to go to Old Trafford with confidence, if you don't they have the tools to exploit that, so you have to go there and believe that you can win.

Mark Hughes


A place in the Europa League next season is still a possibility for City, so there are not just local bragging rights at stake, as the Manager observes,

"We have three games to go and we have a real opportunity of gaining European qualification. We're pleased to be still involved in significant games, but they will be difficult. Two away and one at home, but we need to get something out of our away games, and it would be nice to do that at Old Trafford.

"United are playing exceptionally well, as well as any time in the season. It's a big test for us and we will give it our best shot. They are an outstanding team, but our confidence is high and we are looking forward to it."

Hughes is also aware that a win for City would also throw a spanner in the works as far as United's title ambitions are concerned

"We have got the opportunity to do that, if we can take it we will be delighted. It is all about testing yourself against the best, and at this moment in time United are that. But we know from experience that you can  beat the top teams in this league, you see it week-in, week-out so we have to have the belief and no apprehension to try to replicate what we did last year."

The possibility of a hostile reception from the home fans in a stadium that he graced for many years does not faze Hughes, for him it's all about the here-and-now and getting a result that would give City a huge fillip.

"My sole aim is to get a positive result for Manchester City, exactly as it was when I was at Blackburn. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than beating Manchester United because they set the standard, so when you go to their own backyard and turn them over, the effect that it has on the club, your players and the fans is immeasurable. For us to go there and get a positive result would be fantastic for everyone connected to Manchester City."

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